Rep. Ayanna Pressley says was put in significant danger during the January 6 insurrection, and was so close to harm that rioters ripped out the panic buttons in her office.
As the House prepares to impeach Donald Trump for inciting his followers to violence in the seat of American democracy, multiple accounts are surfacing of how much more deadly the riot could have been. For the Massachusetts lawmaker it got very close.
“Every panic button in my office had been torn out — the whole unit,” Pressley’s chief of staff Sarah Groh told The Boston Globe. The congresswoman’s staffers, fearing the worst, had barricaded the entrance to her office and Groh looked for gas masks and tried to locate the buttons when they discovered they were missing, but couldn’t figure out why. Groh, Pressley and her husband were taken to a secure location to wait out the siege.
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It got to the point where Pressley felt particularly endangered for several reasons: the autoimmune condition she lives with, alopecia, makes her particularly susceptible to coronavirus; she is also part of the group of new legislators known as “The Squad,” a target of sharp criticism from conservatives and Trump himself; and as a Black woman, a violent mob carrying confederate battle flags are a historic, potentially deadly threat to every person of color in the building.
Speaking with MSNBC’s Joy Reid, Pressley said her sense of safety “has certainly been cracked because I have been in the sightline, as have my closest colleagues, of Donald Trump and those who support him.
“So feeling unsafe is not new and certainly being a Black woman and feeling unsafe is not new,” she continued. “The experiences of Wednesday were harrowing and unfortunately very familiar in the deepest, most ancestral way, and that includes for...all Black Americans, all Black members and certainly for our United States Capitol Police officers, who did have racial epithets thrown at them.”
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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another member of “The Squad,” also said that her safety was compromised and that she feared for her life.
"I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive, and not just in a general sense but also in a very, very specific sense," she said in an Instagram Live video, without elaborating due to security concerns.
Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley are joining an overwhelming majority of House Democrats who are expected to vote to impeach Trump and will be joined by a growing group of Republicans in the House and Senate who agree that the president should be removed from office.
She pointed out that the riot was an insurrection led by white supremacists and an “attempted coup to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power,” she said “Donald Trump is a threat to the American people, clear and present."
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